The prom: Not just one night of Haram

”On the dance floor, this Muslim brother came up to me and said ‘Whoa, [my name] I didn't know you danced!' And then he danced off.”

-an anonymous Muslim sister's Prom Night experience, from the Salam newsletter, Montreal, Canada, Summer 1995

“It's a night when you don't remember Allah,” says Amber Rehman, 20, about Prom night. “As a Muslim, that's very hurting and corrosive for the soul.”

The Prom is a yearly social event commemorating students' completion of high school.

While this in itself may seem like a good reason to celebrate, other activities at the Prom indicate it's not just about academic achievement.

Sex, drugs, rockn' roll and lots of alcohol are four crucial elements of Prom night. But it doesn't stop there. Ask Shaema Imam, 21, who attended her 1994 Prom.

“It's not just the drinking, it's not just the hotel room and sex part, it ‘s the whole atmosphere that's created where alcohol, dancing and varying degrees of nudity are correlated with a good time,” says the McGill University student.

It is also big business.

“[The] Prom isn't about North American society wanting its youth to turn into well-adjusted people via grad night,” says Imam. “In fact, this is a multimillion dollar business of selling clothes, accessories, make up, limousine services, food, alcohol, condoms. You need to realize what this is all about.”

Prom night often starts off with dinner at a hotel organized by the high school. But that's tame compared to what happens afterwards.

Many of the students head off to clubs, where mixed dancing and plenty of alcohol and drugs are part of the scene.

“Once this clubbing starts, the true face of the Kaffir party is exposed,” says Imam “This part is the part not officially sanctioned by the high school.”

Imam says students in her graduating class rented a club called The Underground for the post-dinner part of the Prom. She says she was disgusted by the club scene and compared it to Hell, describing it as smoky, dark and unsafe.

ALCOHOL: NO PROM WITHOUT IT

“Everybody becomes so drunk,” says Shadi Sakr about the Prom.

The 22-year-old recounted how a fellow student became so drunken that when he saw Sakr the year after high school graduation, he kept insisting Sakr was in the limousine with him during Prom night.

Sakr did not even go to his Prom.

He discovered the details of the evening from his friends who went.

“Once they're drunk your non-Muslims friends are no longer nice-people-who-happen-to-not-be-Muslims,” says Imam.

“This is the point at which you realize that there is a fundamental difference between you and them. You are a Muslim and they are willing participants in this aspect of North American culture. This is where your Fitrah really kicks in,” she says.

Alcohol was also one reason Ali Shayan, 20, did not go to his Prom.

“I didn't go to the graduation or the prom because I had just started practicing [Islam],” he says. “The fact that there was alcohol and you had to go with a date, because of those reasons I didn't want to go.”

But alcohol can lead to more than making a fool of yourself on the dance floor: it could lead to death.
According to the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.), in 1995, 48.7 percent of traffic fatalities that occurred during the first week of the prom were alcohol related.

SEX: PROM NIGHT IS THE NIGHT FOR IT

While dealing with the opposite sex in school should be related to learning, “Prom night is a night to kick back and relax,” says Rehman. “Islamically, you're not supposed to kick back and relax with the opposite gender.”

“I was worried there would be fornication,” says Sakr, explaining why he did not attend his Prom.

He added youth losing their virginity on Prom night is one of the foci of the evening.

”It's the night where you become an adult, supposedly,” he says.

Hotel rooms are rented, in most cases for this very purpose.

In particular, clubs are where students “practice all [those] ‘girl-guy' moves,” according to Imam and the situation is even more dangerous because they are most often under the influence of alcohol.

THE BUILD UP AND LET DOWN OF PROM NIGHT

“It's supposed to be the gala event of your life,” says Sakr of the Prom. “Many literally worship this evening. They hype the gala event.”

“There's a whole building of an anticipatory culture around ‘the night',” explains Imam.

Indeed, youth are bombarded through magazines, websites, television sitcoms, advertisements, and general peer pressure to participate in this most “essential” of teenage rituals.

Even parents who are strict with their children tend to loosen up for Prom night.

“This is the pinnacle of the night for you to go out and do what you want and non-Muslim parents let their children do whatever they want [that night],” says Sakr.

“The whole year, people were getting their licenses, deciding on what clothes they wanted to wear. Reserving their appointments six months in advance for the hair salon,” he adds.

But the experience of and letdown from the Prom are much greater.

“It's almost impossible for any experience to live up to that build-up,” says Imam.

“This whole night there's [an] aura of high class escapism, but the day before the Prom and the day after you're still the same, unsure teen,” she says, adding it makes it seem almost like you have nothing to look forward to anymore.

”The next morning I went home on the city bus,” she says. “It's almost like turning back into Cinderella's pumpkin.”

INTENSE PEER PRESSURE TO GO TO THE PROM

“When in Rome do as the Romans do and that's very true of the high school experience,” says Imam

The peer pressure to go to the Prom is intense.

“I had to be very firm and have a very forward opinion on it,” says Rehman about telling her friends she was not going to participate. “If I let myself, I could have been persuaded.”

Peer pressure is often the deciding factor for a Muslim youth about whether to go to the Prom or not.

“It depends on how dear you hold your non-Muslim friends,” says Sakr. “I would say most guys would follow the group. “

HALFWAY MEASURES TO THE PROM

Some Muslim youth want to go to the Prom not for the sex, drugs, alcohol or rockn'roll, but simply to have a good time with their friends. They have no intention of approaching these aspects of the evening.

While on the surface, this may seem acceptable, the reality is very different.

“You're seeing people you've spent the last five years [in some parts of Canada, high school is for five years] of your life with in their worst behavior, and you're rationalizing it,” says Sakr of this kind of reasoning.

“It's really hard to have a halfway thing,” says Imam.
“There's no way your Muslim child can just go there and be a wallflower and not be affected,” she warns parents.

”Once you're there, you can't say ‘I refuse to participate in your evil kind of entertainment',” says Imam, adding that most youth would probably feel it's rude to leave.

“If you think that you can protect yourself, then you're entrusting yourself to your own weakness,” says Rehman. She adds that Allah warns against even going near Zina. With the Prom, you're not only going near that, but also near alcohol and drugs.

“You're bearing witness to the Haram and ask yourself, if you were to die there, how would you face Allah, that this is the last time you would be with your friends?” asks Sakr.

ONE NIGHT OF JAHILIYYAH, AND NEVER AGAIN!

”Perhaps, just for one night I could pretend to be a regular Western teenage girl, dress up beautifully, make my hair and make up, dance, have fun, and then, WAllah, I promise, I swear to God, I'll act like a Muslim forever after,?” wrote an anonymous Muslim youth in the Summer 1995 issue of the Montreal, Canada newsletter Salam, rationalizing her choice to go to her Prom.

“Many Muslim youth may be tempted to think that this night is their last foray into the Jahiliyyah culture,” says Imam.

But the result of this approach could be deadly: it could mean never coming back to Islam.

Or, judging from the statistics on traffic fatalities, not coming back alive.

“When I weigh the pros and cons of what happened, my Deen is still here and if I had had fun that night I would have forgotten easily,” says Rehman.

THE PROM NIGHT BUBBLE BURSTS

Apart from the letdown from the gigantic hype, Prom night turns out to be a bust for many.

Although Sakr says the day of the prom, he just stayed home, was bored, and “sort of regretted the fun that I could have had,” he later found out almost everyone at his Prom was drunk, there was too much craziness in the hotels, and some people got kicked out.

The Prom is a major test for Muslim youth. It represents the struggle against some of the very basic elements of what is defined as a “good time” in North American teenage culture.

Muslim parents and communities need to work together to recognize and help the youth fight against these pressures.

Comments

im a muslim who just went to prom,its nothing like wat the article says it is.its a bunch of friends getting together and eating dinner and having fun. i dont see anything wrong with listening to music and dancing with ur friends. some of my closest friends are guys. no one drinks at prom. yes, people do other things AFTER prom but thats very limited. truly. the clubs are too packed w/ older adults to have fun and youre just with your friends. its a time to relax before college. its not haram. we praise Allah everyday and its not like we're not praising him now. he got us through high school and our hard times. he made us stronger with obstacles that were placed before us. it is he dat made us who we are now. prom is a night for having fun and reflecting of what allah did for us in our own way, not for forgetting allah.

Location

Miami

While I am not a Muslim and disagree with the teaching of the Quran, I find this article to be totally accurate in its portrayal of the American "Prom Night." I especially agree with the idea that the night is worshipped. As I am a born again Christian, my main concern is for Christian youths. Unfortunately most of them put their prom ahead of Jesus Christ which equates to idolatry. No Christian has any business in an atmosphere of sin such as that. I only wish that Christians in general would stand up against this damaging immorality as the Muslims do.

Location

Dayton, TN

well, as muslims we shouldnt even think of attending sicu an event. how can one think of ALLAH (swt) and thank Him for being able to attend a prom. even if one doesnt drink, dance or has intercourse on the night, what the eye can see on such a night is bad enough as it is... may Allah (swt) guide me, and all my brothers and sisters in Islam.

Location

london

It deeply saddens me to see Muslims reach the state where they're debating as to whether or not it is Halal or Haraam to attend a prom! Fear Allah (SWT) is all I have to say! Ask yourselves this - would you be there if Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalaam) was here today? Would you even be there, knowing your parents had full knowledge of what happens there? I think not! P.s. My mate Bashir from London made a typo - it was supposed to be such, not sicu. And he's totally right!!!

Location

Sumwhere

It saddens me to no extent to see the confusion and desire of so many young Muslim men and and women. I know what an extremely big deal the Senior Prom can be. I know, because I have gone through it. I find it sad that you have such a negative portrayal of the Prom. The truth is, the PROM in general should not be linked to sex and alcohol. The prom is sponsored by the school and teachers and the principal are the chaperones. In fact, alcohol is not permitted at the event, so it difficult to comprehend the fact that students would be drunk at the prom. What students do after the prom, going to clubs, renting hotel rooms, has nothing to do with what the school sponsors. It is possible for a person to go to the prom and then to go home. I know this, because this is what I did. I consider myself to be a faithful Muslim woman. I attended my Senior prom and have no regrets. It was made very clear to my senior class that alcohol would not permitted; and none was. It was a joy to dress up in a beautiful gown that covered every inch of my body and attend a ballroom with my classmates and my teachers. My principal was even there. I had no date for the prom, as I went with a group of my friends. My point in the whole matter is that the Prom should not be regarded as a sin or as filth. I do not in any way or form regret going to the prom. No one was drunk at my prom. We mingled, drank coke, and wished each other well in our futures. I went straight home after the prom. My friends continued on to post-prom parties.I can say with utmost confidence that I will allow my son or daughter to attend his or her senior prom. It is a night to be spent with their classmates and teachers. If they are faithful to their religion, they will not drink afterwards or use the night to "lose their virginity". I thanked Allah for allowing me to attend the senior prom. The fact that I was able to tightened my resolve with my religion and enabled me to embrace it. I did not feel like a left out teenager. And I never once, ever, forgot Allah.

Location

NJ

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem,As muslims we must make our presence known. I too went to my Prom, nothing "bad" happened. No acting out or real thing harami actions. No alcohol and sexual behaviour. Perhaps after in private settings but not in my sight. What does this do? It helps me stay strong, Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said "No monkery in Islam!" That means no hiding out like a monk,where is the Jihad in that? What else does attending do? Have you under estimated the Baraka of Allah. When Muslims are present, and are there in numbers and give an example, and a contrast. (hey! he/she isn't drinking or being a goof and is still smiling-hey! If it works, why don't I try it?) It spreads! How can it spread when we don't even make our presence and practices known! inshallah, maybe a Prom in the future will consist of a majority of mu'mins and mu'minaat. How will that be if we hide in "monkery". In fact many "white-non-muslim" friends of mine respect me so much that they toohave adopted no alcohol socials. They are happy to know there are people here who don't indulge in that. It is our duty to give those a place to turn! Subhanallah!May Allah guide us rightly and bless us all!

Location

toronto

I am personally not going 2 do those things ... It's my personal opion. Plus when u drink I think it makes ur perception off and it makes you do stupid things

Location

Jerzee

I am a muslim college student at this point of time. I would like to say that this article is just totally off-limits to some extent. I am not saying that it is HALAL to go to the prom, but the descriptions given here only happen in the dirtiest places in the world. In any case, I personally had a 'muslim' prom in which only muslim females rented a hall and we had our own fun. We danced ate and had our night to remember. People need to understand that Islam does not forbid you from having fun. You CAN and NEED to have fun in this world, but we must always remember Allah and his blessings in the meanwhile. In anycase, for all those students who will soonm graduate, I highly recommend a get together with your muslim pals, maybe go to a restaraunt and just have something to put in as a memory of the day you finished high-school. Goodluck to all. And may allah bless and guide as all to the straight path inshallah. Salamz

Location

New Jersey

I find this article very sad. The fact that you people debate wether prom is halal or haram. First of all i am a muslim and i did go to my prom resently. Nothing happened at the actual prom, yes some people get carried away with there dancing thinking this is their last day to do all these things, and there are after parties that you choose to attend. The point is anything can be halal or haram depending on the way you choose to do it. example, going to prom is and isnt haram. If you drink, smoke, and have sex after, thats the haram, but if your there to have fun with your friends and teachers thats not. If a girl or guy has high beliefs than they for themselves will know whats right or wrong without anyone telling them. And you dont have to go home right after... me and my friends had an after party together... that was the most memorable night and nothing haram happened, thats the point of your last day of highschool. salamo 3alaykum

Location

Windor, Can.

i think it's very true about prom. i went to my friends party, which i was invited to since i didn't go to her school. they actually rented an island off perth, where i live, called Rottnest Island. it was utter chaos. the police were called in because all the boys had gone WAY too rough. there was motels where you could here them in action and there was guys and girls sharing joints and XTC. it was so horrible that my group went to the farthest corner of the islandm, avoiding the others. when i have children, i would absolutely forbid them to go to proms.

Location

Australia

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